This morning, as I read about some truly idiotic and offensive things said by Republicans regarding COVID-19 and black people, I couldn’t help but notice that Trump is wanting to “rebuild our nation” by holding rallies. However, because he’s an asshole who can’t admit that he’s handled the whole coronavirus pandemic horribly, Trump is demanding that there be no social distancing or face masks worn. Moreover, his handlers have also added the following statement to his website for those who register to attend:
I’m sure Donald would love for as many people as possible to come listen to him speak. And he’s chosen an interesting day on which to hold his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city in which black residents were massacred in 1921. It’ll be on “Juneteenth”, a day in which many black Americans celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. But show up without a mask, and don’t expect to have empty seats between you and the next stranger who just wants to “make America great again” and “rebuild the nation”… (Rebuild? I thought Trump made it “great” again… I guess it takes longer than three years of hell for that to happen. He made it sound so easy back in 2016!)
If you get sick or someone in your party dies from COVID-19, don’t be coming to Trump for any restitution! YOU made the choice to be downwind of the fetid hot air emanating from his mouth and rectum. YOU made the choice to get sick… although maybe some of his followers would claim that you need to get right with God so you don’t fall ill. Perhaps if you plan to attend a Trump rally, you might want to check your health insurance coverage… and maybe bring a Bible and do some praying. Personally, I plan to stay home.
Trump is also holding rallies in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, probably thanks to all the protesting that has been going on lately over the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. But despite evidence that the pandemic is far from over at this point, Trump wants the show to go on… and he wants people not to take any precautions for their health. To be honest, I kind of wonder if these rallies will have the effect of culling some of the stupid from our ranks. You know… Darwin Awards are still a thing.
Meanwhile, Republican Ohio Senator Steve Huffman, who represents a district north of Dayton, made the news by asking this regarding rising COVID-19 rates among African Americans:
“I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from covid. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get covid? Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?”
These questions got a quick response from Angela Dawson, a black woman who is the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health:
“That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country. Do all populations need to wash their hands? Absolutely, sir, but that is not where you are going to find the variance and the rationale for why these populations are more vulnerable.”
This is actually very interesting to me on a personal level. When I was in graduate school, I worked as a graduate assistant for South Carolina’s Bureau of Epidemiology at the Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). It was my job to write up the results of the BRFSS– the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. This system, which is ultimately run by the Centers for Disease Control, is a telephone survey that collects data from states regarding the health of citizens. The questions asked are about certain risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. The data, which is collected in all 50 states, is divided by sex and race. I remember back in the day when I was interpreting the results and writing them up, people of color typically had less healthy outcomes than white people did and their life expectancies were lower. I see not much has changed almost twenty years later.
COVID-19 was obviously not a thing when I was involved with collecting and interpreting data from the BRFSS, but I’ll bet there are questions about it now. The CDC is tracking who is getting sick and how. And unfortunately, it looks like people of color are at a higher risk than white people. This is also true for a lot of chronic health conditions. The overall reasons for the higher rates of illness are ultimately complex, although some of the reasons behind the infections are not so complex. It’s not a secret that people who are not as affluent tend to be in poorer health. It’s also not a secret that people of color are typically less affluent than white people are. When one has less money, one is likely less able to make choices– everything from dietary to living arrangements to work arrangements– that would prevent one from getting sick.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to stay away from most everyone except for Bill, who is also very privileged to be able to work from home. But there was a time in my life when I had to take public transportation to get to work, and my work required that I deal with people directly. I didn’t make much money, so I had to keep working at that job, until I was finally able to make a choice that allowed me to retire from it… and in order to make that choice– go to graduate school– I had to spend money on loans. Not everyone is able to make that choice. Not everyone can live alone, or with just one or two family members. Some people have to share quarters for financial reasons while they go to work every day, taking public transportation. That’s how they pick up communicable diseases like COVID-19. I doubt very much that it has to do with people simply not washing their hands often enough, regardless of their skin color. Although hand washing is VERY important.
The real kicker about this, though, is that Huffman is a physician himself! He worked as an emergency room doctor until he got fired due to his tone deaf comments about COVID-19! McHenry Lee, a spokesman for TeamHealth, where Huffman had a job until yesterday, had this to say:
“Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”
Well, good on TeamHealth for routing out a “bad apple”. Actually, I have no way of knowing if Huffman is a good doctor, but I do think his comments were surprisingly ignorant, particularly given that he’s a physician. Moreover, I have been reading in the new Facebook group I joined about Black Lives Matter, that people of color are routinely treated differently by healthcare providers. For instance, they are less likely to believed when they claim to be in pain, and they are more likely to be treated dismissively when they have healthcare concerns. Yes, there are disparities in healthcare delivery caused by racist attitudes… and given Senator Huffman’s comments, I wonder what kind of care he gives to his black patients.
Anyway… another week has passed and I have managed to survive. Things are loosening up here in Germany, and COVID-19 still seems to be fairly under control, particularly compared to in the United States. It does look like my Keb’ Mo’ concert scheduled for November 2020 is being postponed until April 2021… but it also looks like we’ll still be here. At least, at this point in time it does. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have a new president who really does want to make America better for EVERYONE… not just the people who kiss his ass and sign a disclaimer not to sue him. Here’s hoping, anyway…